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Programmer Sues VU Games Over Excessive Work Hours

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the finish-the-game dept.

The Almighty Buck 106

eToychest writes "According to Reuters, a video game programmer has sued Vivendi Universal Games, claiming he and his colleagues were regularly forced to work extra hours and denied overtime pay. The suit, filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, is one of many filed against companies in the state in recent months, as employees seek to be classified as overtime-eligible to obtain compensation for working more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week. The suit seeks payment of back overtime wages plus other damages. This comes the recent announcement that the company said it would cut more than one-third of its staff, excluding Blizzard. Of the things mentioned in the suit, the complaints include no overtime compensation, and employees being ordered to falsify timesheets to indicate they worked shorter days." This report is especially interesting in light of the recent IGDA 'Quality Of Life' survey for game developers.

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Last time I checked (0, Flamebait)

aflat362 (601039) | more than 10 years ago | (#9571924)

This isn't the third world people. Nobody's forcing you to work. How hard is it to say to your employer "No, I won't work excessive hours without compensation" If they fire you, oh well. Sounds like the job sucked anyway.

I'm glad though, that they are doing something about the problem. I hate it when the Man exploits people and fills his already fat pockets a little more.

Re:Last time I checked (4, Insightful)

Mattcelt (454751) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572026)

Are you kidding? If the option is "work overtime or lose your job", how many people are going to quit? How many are in a financial position to do so?

Don't forget too, that we're in a recovery period in the US economy right now, and a lot of these violations occurred during the recent past where jobs - and especially game programming jobs! - were very hard to come by.

Would you quit your job with no other job prospects and little or no savings just because you didn't want to work some overtime?

Employers have much more power than you apparently think.

Re:Last time I checked (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572094)

well. not only working overtime but forging timesheets as well.

basically breaking the law as well(I don't know the local laws around where this happened though) by that.

Re:Last time I checked (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9573619)

Are you kidding? If the option is "work overtime or lose your job", how many people are going to quit? How many are in a financial position to do so?
Why aren't they in a financial position to do so? The honest answer from most people I know would be that they would rather have a big screen TV, a library of DVDs, a motorcycle, and a boat rather than the security of being able to support their current lifestyle for a year if they lost their job.

Ah, but... (2, Informative)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 10 years ago | (#9574370)

Try to explain (especially to an HR person) during an interview why you haven't been working for a year.

At 9 out of 10 interviews, "Because the economy is shitty and I didn't want to work in sweatshop-like conditions." isn't going to cut it. They'll smile, nod, figure there's something wrong with you that you're not admitting, and quietly circular-file your resume.

Re:Ah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9574787)

Amen to that. My personal favorite going in for a temp job, during the interview after having the interviewer tell me the company has a hiring freeze, in the next breath ask, why have you had trouble finding regular work?

Re:Ah, but... (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 10 years ago | (#9578215)

Then you find a way to sue them, since if I'm correct, they do have to keep your resume on file in the proper place since trashing it could violate the law in some places if they cant be nailed for other things. Besides, the 10th company is outdoing the other 9 by accepting your honesty.

Re:Ah, but... (1)

battlemarch (570731) | more than 10 years ago | (#9579045)

LOL, try getting sympathy explaining that you took two years off during this shitty economy while your wife worked and you took care of the kids. :-(

Re:Last time I checked (3, Insightful)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572074)

The sad thing is, while the game industry can be compared to the movie industry in terms of dollars many game programmers are virtually sweatshop workers.

Success stories like Sierra or iD or Lord British are yesterday's news. Today the money is earned by the programmer and taken by the publisher. Maybe the music industry would be a smarter comparison than the movie industry. Business is able to take the lion's share from the talent once again because a good product is nothing without advertising and distribution.

Re:Last time I checked (2, Interesting)

th3space (531154) | more than 10 years ago | (#9578888)

Your comparison between the movie industry and the video game industry was a valid one, just not in the way you were going with it.

Movies have several levels of people involved with getting one made and distributed...and so do video games, now that it's a multi-billion dollar a year industry. Games, like movies, have actors, directors, producers, sound engineers, etc...but instead of the programmers being the stars, they're actually more akin to the lighting department, the set designers, the wardrobe consultants, grips and cameramen. They are just as important in the making of the game, but ultimately will have their work overlooked by the majority of the viewing public. John Q. Gamer probably won't care one way or another if Steven H. Programmer worked on this title or that title...only the fan-boys and hardcore gamers care about things like that.

The stars of the games are no longer even the games themselves, or the characters...more and more the stars are people whose agents advised them that they ought to capitalize on the resounding success of the game industry...Vin Diesel, Jet Li, entire casts from movies providing the voice work and mo-cap for their digitized counterpart.

Is this fair to the programmers? Should they be relegated to a supporting role? Well, movie studios and media conglomerates are snatching up publishing studios like they're friggin' Pokemon...gotta catch 'em all...so this is just the way things are working out in the industry, fair or not. It doesn't surprise me in the least that this happened at VU...they're making games the way they make movies. The only hope for programmers to continue to be able to get the respect and compensation that they deserve is by unionizing...and that may be around the corner if things keep moving in the direction they've been headed in for the past couple of years.

For good or for ill, video games grew up...and while we may not have any more Sierras or iDs or Origins...we're getting slick, stylized, polished games the likes of which we could've only dreamed of back in the day.

Back to the topic...getting jerked around on your pay is pretty crap...but this Pandora's Box could have all kinds of consequences that the plaintiff(s) hadn't anticipated...like not having to worry about finding programming work anymore, since it will have all been shipped out in the name of financial stability.

Re:Last time I checked (4, Interesting)

b0r0din (304712) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572251)

Of course he can quit. That isn't the point of the article. The point is that the managers of the company were forcing non-exempt employees to work more time than they reported. It's ILLEGAL. Furthermore, IANAL, but I bet it qualifies as tax fraud as well.

Now, if these programmers were salaried, exempt, employees, the managers would be in a better position. But this wasn't the case.

The simple fact of the matter is that labor laws require employers to pay overtime to non-exempt employees. If the employee is right and managers were 'tweaking' the hours, it's illegal, and give the guy filing the suit credit, he had the balls to point it out.

Of course they fail to point out the other side of the matter, which is that maybe the managers were doing this because they were being squeezed by the higher ups who were putting pressure on them to farm the work out to India or something. I guess time will tell.

Re:Last time I checked (4, Informative)

Colazar (707548) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572843)

The point is that the managers of the company were forcing non-exempt employees to work more time than they reported. It's ILLEGAL. Furthermore, IANAL, but I bet it qualifies as tax fraud as well.

Absolutely it is tax fraud. Payroll tax fraud. They didn't pay FICA or FIT on any of those unreported wages, and that'd be at least 30% of the gross value of the wages. That's one reason the government tends to come down very heavy on these kinds of things--it's costing them serious money.

Don't ever mess with payroll taxes, by the way. As a company, you can get away with not paying your bills, or not paying your employees, or even not paying the bank. But if you ever miss paying your payroll tax deposit, they will throw you under the jail.

Re:Last time I checked (4, Insightful)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573684)

Don't ever mess with payroll taxes, by the way. As a company, you can get away with not paying your bills, or not paying your employees, or even not paying the bank. But if you ever miss paying your payroll tax deposit, they will throw you under the jail.

I wish you were correct. I really do.

The bad thing about not paying your payroll taxes is this: You're keeping your business running by stealing from your employees. As a business owner, the employee contribution to payroll taxes (known as the "trust fund" portion of the taxes) ISN'T YOUR MONEY! It's money that's been earned by your employees but that they let you hold onto because you've promised to send it in to the government on their behalf. (See? That's why it's called "trust fund" money; your employees trust you to send *their* money to the govt.)

If you don't pay your payroll taxes, you're a thief. Plain and simple.

If you ever hear that your employer is in trouble to non-payment of payroll taxes, look for another job immediately. Your destiny in your current position is too highly influenced by a lying crook.

Now, as for your "under the jail" comment - it's just not true. Employers can get pretty darn delinquent on payroll taxes before the IRS notices. When they do notice, you can drag out the collection process to a ridiculous degree thanks to the neutering the agency got as a result of all that bogus testimony to Congress back in 1998. The resulting statute, RRA98, provides so many mandatory administrative reviews and expanded taxpayer rights (rights to throw a monkey wrench into the machinery of legitimate tax collection, that is) that a smart lawyer can buy you ages before the government comes and shuts you down.

It happens eventually, but that "throw you under the jail" comment is a tad overstated.

Pity, that.

Re:Last time I checked (1)

Colazar (707548) | more than 10 years ago | (#9574014)

And thinking back to the examples I've seen of this, yeah, they were all 1998 and before. Guess that means I'm behind the times.

Re:Last time I checked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9574158)

How do they fit you under the jail? Just curious.

It's about time ... but (1, Interesting)

Dillenger69 (84599) | more than 10 years ago | (#9571975)

I'd say "yay for him". I'd sue too ... but.
there's absolutley nothing keeping them from moving the job I complain about offshore.

The way I see it. You can complain, win your court case, lose your job, ask people if they'd like fries with that.
or
You can work your long hours and take every ounce of free time for yourself during the day, just making sure to do a bit of a better job than everyone else.

Re:It's about time ... but (3, Insightful)

sfjoe (470510) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572335)

The way I see it. You can complain, win your court case, lose your job, ask people if they'd like fries with that.
or
You can work your long hours and take every ounce of free time for yourself during the day, just making sure to do a bit of a better job than everyone else.


Another possibility is to band together with other IT workers, domestic as well as international, and demand fair pay for a day's work.
A unified group voice is the only counter to the dollars that management has at their disposal to throw around at election time. For me, I prefer to not be a sheep.

Re:It's about time ... but (1)

AltaMannen (568693) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573656)

Unifying workers have been difficult in the videogame industry. Taking part in any existing union would split up programmers and artists and producers and starting a new union usually has few takers, and would any partner union decide to strike and request partner actions at the time of your deadline you might find yourself in a position where your work-for-hire may be released unfinished or cancelled. At one place I worked the management requested that we join a union and we interviewed a number of representatives from different unions and the result was that 1) we'd lose performance based bonuses 2) we'd adhere to their pay structure (salary based on experience, seniority and education but NOT successful in-time releases) 3) noone could afford the fee 4) if there was a general engineer strike by this union we'd have to strike too at the same time as 5) they would not issue union actions based on 30 kids being unhappy with their working hours.

Re:It's about time ... but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9575115)

Yes! Join the revolution comrades and overthrow your bourgeois oppressors! Show those capitalist pig dogs that they do not govern our lives!

Re:It's about time ... but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9576337)

Another possibility is to band together with other IT workers.... For me, I prefer to not be a sheep.

You would demonstrate that you are not a sheep by joining a flock?

Mmm... (4, Funny)

smileyy (11535) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572016)

Wholly unregulated capitalism combined with high unemployment rates! The best way evar to disenfranchise the worker.

Re:Mmm... (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572356)

Sounds to me more like people who so badly want to be high paid programmers are willing to take an excessivly stressful job.

high unemployment? (0, Flamebait)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 10 years ago | (#9575773)

Please. When were you born, 1997? High unemployment would be double digits. You know, like it is all the time in Europe. Many economists still think that full employment is 5%. Today it's at ~6.5% and jobs are being created faster than ever - luring more people from semi-retirment or non-working status to unemployed/job seeking status. Get a clue, Democrat.

Re:high unemployment? (3, Informative)

Poseidon88 (791279) | more than 10 years ago | (#9576090)

That's a national rate. In the last couple years, some states have had rates as high as 8.5%, and that's only counting the people who applied for unemployment benefits. Add in the homeless and people who just decided to live off their savings for a while, and I imagine you'd probably break that double-digits barrier. Not sure what this has to do with the story, though. All too often, these days, employers are trying to cut costs by hiring fewer people to do more work, and not compensating them for the extra time. I think a win in this case would be a great breakthrough for the software industry, where such situations are almost a way of life.

Re:high unemployment? (1)

smileyy (11535) | more than 10 years ago | (#9576258)

That's *bleeding heart liberal* to you, thank you.

Re:high unemployment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9581948)

The difference is that in Europe, they do not prune the rolls. In the US, you are magically no longer unemployed as soon as your unemployment runs out, or if you take a job at the local McDonalds while trying to get back into your field.

If the US didn't employ these tricks, our umemployment rates would be as high as Europe's.

Oh, and that 'full employment' belief is by no means a universally accepted opinion.

the problem is... (5, Interesting)

thebdj (768618) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572034)

Many times when this occurs the employees in question are salaried employees. People who make a flat monthly rate are a bit harder to pay overtime for than your standard hourly employee. Also you will find that places will usually explain to those people that they may be required to work extra hours and perform overtime and this is usually seen in their pay.

Something I would really like to know is if any employers actually pay their salaried workers a bit more knowing they will have to work overtime or if they manage ways to pay overtime or give them extra time off for working the overtime. While quitting may not always be an option as finding a replacement job is not always easy, it is still available as a way to get out of these types of bad situations.

In reality it may come down to forcing states to once again rework labor laws. Since in almost every state salaried workers are exempt from overtime pay they can become slave labor and while some companies may seemingly be able to get away with this, it isn't good for the people they have working for them. While removing the exemption may cost some companies more money, the smart ones will simple hire more workers to lower the overtime load since that would be cheaper than paying someone to work 60+ hours a week every week.

Re:the problem is... (5, Informative)

mkohel (746755) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572358)

If I recall my employment law class correctly, just being salaried is not enough to make you exempt from overtime. Of course this probably differs state to state. Heres a link http://www.ewin.com/articles/exneot.htm
If an employee does not meet even one of the criteria, he or she is not exempt (non-exempt) from the provisions of the law. ....

Exempt Professional Employees are those employed in a bona fide professional capacity whose primary work requires knowledge of an advanced type in a field of science or learning customarily acquired through a prolonged course of intellectual instruction and study, as distinguished from a general academic education and from training in the performance of routine mental, manual or physical processes;

and/or work that is original and creative in character in a recognized field;

and whose work requires discretion or judgment in its performance; and work which is predominantly intellectual and varied in character and is of such character that the output produced cannot be standardized in relation to a given period of time;

and who does not devote more than 20% of his time to nonexempt activities;

and who is compensated at the rate of $1,150 a month.

Re:the problem is... (1)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 10 years ago | (#9575790)

But *I think* companies can still make you sign a contract as terms of your employment that says that they will not pay overtime under any circumstances and that you "may be asked from time to time to work above normal hours as projects dictate" or something like that.

So yeah, back to square one.

Re:the problem is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9578847)

If the terms of the contract are illegal as per labor law, then the agreement is not valid.

That's really f*cking scary. (1)

LiberalApplication (570878) | more than 10 years ago | (#9582995)

and who is compensated at the rate of $1,150 a month.

I may be reading these multiple negations incorrectly, but am I to understand that this person whose primary work requires knowledge of an advanced type in a field of science or learning customarily acquired through a prolonged course of intellectual instruction and study, as distinguished from a general academic education and from training is not qualified for overtime pay if he/she earns more than $1,150 per month?! When was this written, 1970? Where are you going to find people who meet those criteria and earn less than $13,000/year?

Re:the problem is... (3, Insightful)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572388)

With benefits and stuff, the breakeven is probably more around 70 hours (what you pocket is less than half of what you cost a company).

Re:the problem is... (5, Informative)

DeadEye (6229) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572593)

What I've often been told (and I am a game programmer working on a major PS2 title [demonstone.com] ) is that "the compensation for your overtime was built into your salary". Of course, they only tell you that after it becomes an issue, not when you are negotiating contracts. In the end, it's the video game industry, and as much as people would like to compare the video game industry with the movie industry, one thing they actually have in common is that they simply would not be possible without the dedication and passion the developers put into them. There is nothing particularly smart or revolutionary about the business end of those industries, it's all in the "little" people who actually do the work. Long story short, you have to want to do it, and it will be hell at times.

Re:the problem is... (2, Insightful)

Creepy (93888) | more than 10 years ago | (#9575957)

Wow - you didn't know that before hand? I suppose having had two salaried parents made me more aware of it earlier in life.

The whole idea of salaried workers is to avoid unplanned budgeting expenses and so overtime is built into the base pay. Unfortunately, it leads to far too much abuse, especially in the tech industry. Far too many of us are _expected_ to work more than 40 hours a week, which is just wrong unless they tell you in advance (e.g. you'll get $80k, but you'll work 50+ hour days every week).

Re:the problem is... (2, Funny)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | more than 10 years ago | (#9576730)

Well it is nice to see you guys all lubed up and ready for your employers, both presant and future. Keep making excuses for your employer and remember to never make waves!
Man, if you swallow HR dogma that well, I would hire you and make you work for peanuts and fruit skins...

The whole idea of salaried workers in IT is that they are deparate fools who end up taking a shafting by a insanely capitalist government. Overtime is NOT worked into the salary, they pay them a standard wage (just enough to lure them in) and the enourmous overtime is just "expected". You can tell this because their contracts completely lack any overtime rules other than "no money for you monkey boy". Then they make the little "rats in a maze" feel they are being rewarded for this by giving out "Pats on the back"(TM) and only giving raises and promotions to people who averaged 95 hours a week. Further perpetuating this trend.

But don't worry, the little rats are loved and well looked after...until of course (as in this case) the profit margin is in danger, then they will sack you without a second thought.

GO CAPITALISTS GO!!! WOOHOO! BUSH FOREVER!

Note: Yes I work in IT. Yes I worked in a similar job to this above. (not in games) Although I was far too valuable to fire, as I am sure many of us are. I have a much better job now (in IT) and I get paid more...go figure.

Re:the problem is... (1)

DeadEye (6229) | more than 10 years ago | (#9577879)

The first time? No, I did not know that beforehand. Everyone has to learn once either by being told or going through it themselves, etc. Subsequent times I knew it and factored it in to my decision making. I was just trying to offer one person's experience (mine), with a similar situation. As far as having salaried parents, my parents seldom if ever discussed their contract negotiations and salries with me, but I did know that my father who was a teacher for 25+ years worked after school, after dinner, etc. So you're right, the information was there to be learned from. Some of us just need more than one lesson ;)

Re:the problem is... (3, Insightful)

Alizarin Erythrosin (457981) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573869)

While removing the exemption may cost some companies more money, the smart ones will simple hire more workers to lower the overtime load since that would be cheaper than paying someone to work 60+ hours a week every week.

In my case, it's cheaper for us to have our techs work 8 hours a day 7 days a week to push product out than it is to hire another person. Once you factor in benefits, training, paperwork, HR overhead, and all that jazz the cost of a new hire is cheaper.

When I switched from contract to full time employee, I requested a bump in pay to compensate for the fact that I would no longer get time and a half over 40 hours. I was flat out denied. I lose about $800 a month now because of it. I happen to know how much the contract agency was charging the company (I was replacing somebody so they brought me in through a contract agency to train). If they would have given me half the difference per hour extra, it would have actually been more then I was requesting.

What is wrong with these people? (1, Flamebait)

bconway (63464) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572228)

Salaried, nonexempt employees are not paid for their hours, they're paid to get a job done, regardless of the time it takes. That can mean working extra hours in the crunch time, or taking off a couple hours early on Friday to play golf. Do these people really WANT to be hourly employees? I sure as hell don't.

Re:What is wrong with these people? (4, Insightful)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572279)

The problem is, how often do you take time off to play a round of golf? If the company's doing their job viciously, never. Game companies especially, are not kind in the hours dept. They're typically understaffed and over worked. Once a game ships, you might get a week, or perhaps a month, off. Or you might complete Myst 3 and find yourself fired because your bosses aren't competent enough to keep the work coming in at a regular pace.

Basically, employers too often want to work a salaried employee like an hourly without the hassle of overtime.

Yup I noticed this as well (4, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572797)

They call it being flexible, you being able to start early, leave late, work weekends and be on call. Of course when you need a morning off to visit the dentist all hell breaks loose.

It sounds nice but in reality there are very few workplaces where the flexibilty goes both ways.

You should try suggesting that if you stayed late that the next day you will be in late. Most bosses don't even seem to get the concept. I did work at one place that was fun and had amazingly long hours (so long I even just stayed overnight rather then spend more time travelling home then sleeping) but after a while I realized that while I had more money coming in I had far far more going out (pizza, late night shopping, etc) then doing regular 40hr work.

Re:Yup I noticed this as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9581846)

Bullshit. I don't know what game company you're working at, but I've never heard a *peep* when I needed to take time for dentist, cable guy, etc.

I'm also a (dreaded) middle manager, and I can tell you for sure that anyone who fucking nickle-and-dimes a programmer about their work time, or gived them crap if they need to go to the Dentist, is going to find themselves shit out of luck when it comes time to call on that programmer to reall deliver.

It's a pretty clear-cut social contract that I have with programmers that I manage, and that I have with my bosses: I'll work like a dog when I need to, and even when I don't, because I like what I do, but the second someone tries to get squirrly about PTO, I start working 8 hours a day (and the idiot who was hassling me about PTO is fucked).

Frankly in my experience, the more the company wants you to work, the more they *have* to be flexible. Even EA is like this. Productive people are basically allowed to do whatever they want.

Re:What is wrong with these people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9574042)

The problem is, how often do you take time off to play a round of golf?
Not often, but here's what I've noticed at my current game dev job: people "work" eight hour days, which include a few hours of game playing (under the guise of research), two hour lunches, web surfing, personal phone calls, gabbing with co-workers/friends, etc. Then, during crunch time, they whine about how hard they're working and how many hours they're "forced" to put in so the game can ship.

Seeing as how I'm on slashdot instead of coding to reach a milestone, I'd fall under the above category of people.

Re:What is wrong with these people? (2, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572315)

**
Salaried, nonexempt employees are not paid for their hours, they're paid to get a job done, regardless of the time it takes. That can mean working extra hours in the crunch time, or taking off a couple hours early on Friday to play golf.
**

That's all nice and good. IF the job is even possible to do in the timeframe, which means that you'd be doing extra hours for the crunch time that would last all year long from year to year.

of course, this might shed some light into some issues why some games are done so stupidly(a multi million game that's just bad because some few little things are done so badly).

Re:What is wrong with these people? (1)

dbretton (242493) | more than 10 years ago | (#9576197)

Mod the parent down as -1,Wrong

Non-exempt employees get overtime pay, and are paid by the hour. look for yourself [lectlaw.com]

Exempt do not (usually) get overtime pay. here [lectlaw.com]

Re:What is wrong with these people? (1)

dbretton (242493) | more than 10 years ago | (#9576232)

(btw, I'm referring to the original parent)

Re:What is wrong with these people? (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572475)

Just becuase you are salaried does not make you non-exempt. The article says these are non-exempt employees, and therefore should be entitled to overtime.
How you can be a non-exempt programmer is beyond me, but that's a different issue.

Re:What is wrong with these people? (5, Informative)

Colazar (707548) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572740)

How you can be a non-exempt programmer is beyond me, but that's a different issue.

There's a checklist on conditions that you have to meet to be exempt (which I don't remember all of off the top of my head), but the gist of it boils down to this: you can't be exempt unless you have control.

To be exempt you really have to be a manager (supervise other people) or have near-complete control over how and when you do your job. It is very difficult to *compell* overtime from an exempt employee--it may end up being necessary logistically to get the job done, but that is employee's decision, *not* the employer's. Special circumstances can over-ride this, of course, but if there are "special circumstances" a good percentage of the time, then those circumstances aren't really very special anymore, and the job has probably been mis-classified.

Re:What is wrong with these people? (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573084)

From what I recall (my brief visit to DOL found nothing except the forthcoming changes to the FLSA) is that you were exempt if you were:
Professional (engineer, programmer, etc)
Administrative (CEO, manager, etc)
and, uh, something else.

Anyhow, it would seem that a programmer ought to fall under the Professional category. Perhaps that is a bit fuzzy under the current FLSA, which may be why they've revised it (and to get a bunch of new people classed exempt).

As far as compelling overtime, that's easy. Just use the "or else" method.

Re:What is wrong with these people? (2, Insightful)

Colazar (707548) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573901)

From what I recall (my brief visit to DOL found nothing except the forthcoming changes to the FLSA) is that you were exempt if you were: Professional (engineer, programmer, etc)

I'm a non-exempt professional in a usually-exempt profession (CPA). Just being professional is not enough. It's one of the indicators that there's a *good chance* that you are exempt, but you still have to meet the other criteria. But companies get nailed for this all the time by making assumptions. Every place I've worked has been nailed on this. (But always before I was there.)

It's always been a benefit for me, because they've then had to be extra careful with how they treat their employees. When I've been exempt, I've had true autonomy to control my work hours and location. And when I've been non-exempt (like now) I've gotten compensated for the overtime I've worked.

Re:What is wrong with these people? (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573955)

in order to be a Professional, in California, you have to have passed a state licence, like architect, lawyer, doctor, or accountant (the BAR exam)

Computer professionals, surpisingly, have their own section in the california code. one of the requirements for them being exxept is that their hourly rate as of (jan 2004) exceed 44.63 dollars an hour. So if you're working 60 hours a week, you should be making (and I round down) $139000 per year.

See: http://www.management-advantage.com/products/overt ime-exempt.html

Re:What is wrong with these people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9574518)

You need to look at your states labor statutes for the exact specification, or ask your lawyer. In some cases the state law will reference the federal statutes, and possibly modify them in some way. I believe some states give a list of job categories that are considered to be professions, others require a state issued license or certification in order to be considered a professional, etc. Bottom line: it depends on the state you are in.

Re:What is wrong with these people? (2, Interesting)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572670)

>That can mean working extra hours in the crunch time, or taking off a couple hours early on Friday to play golf.

If you are doing the later, I'm sure that someone higher up would love to know about this. Either they would like to give you more work or they don't need you at all.

>Do these people really WANT to be hourly employees?

Because it enforces equal work for equal pay.

Re:What is wrong with these people? (1)

bconway (63464) | more than 10 years ago | (#9576293)

If you are doing the later, I'm sure that someone higher up would love to know about this. Either they would like to give you more work or they don't need you at all.

Well, I'd be happy to turn myself in, but I was invited along by the CIO, and my boss was among the managers on the latest trip out, so it might not have much effect. Apparently some companies recognize excellent work and treat employees well to keep them happy.

Because it enforces equal work for equal pay.

This coming from someone posting to Slashdot from work. The irony is killing me.

Re:What is wrong with these people? (2, Interesting)

Detritus (11846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573249)

At my last job, I was a salaried exempt employee. That's what they told me. I didn't get paid for overtime. Fair enough, I'm on a salary. What pissed me off was that if I worked less than 8 hours, my pay was reduced accordingly, as if I was paid an hourly wage. They wanted it both ways.

Re:What is wrong with these people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9574563)

They were probably breaking the law. You might still be able to sue them, if you are so inclined.

Re:What is wrong with these people? (1)

bugbread (599172) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573882)

I used to be an hourly employee, and was switched (kinda) to salaried. I would like to go back to hourly.

Rather, a legitimate question: what's wrong with hourly?

Re:What is wrong with these people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9576263)

1.) Some people prefer a flexible time schedule.
2.) The amount you can make at an hourly job is going to peak very quickly.

Re:What is wrong with these people? (1)

bugbread (599172) | more than 10 years ago | (#9577909)

Thanks. Question about number 1, though: what is it about hourly work that makes it inflexible? Or rather, if your company doesn't have flex time, doesn't salaried work and hourly work have the same lack of flexibility?

Re:What is wrong with these people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9576734)

There is nothing wrong with it. I think it is a good thing. It makes managers who have 'do whatever it takes' attitudes with EVERY project plan more. Usually overtime is a lack of planing. If the money is coming out of their budget you would be surprised HOW quickly the budgets tighten up. Planing is done RIGHT and it is usally done right. I think this is the one thing in this industry that is wrong. It leads to sloppy programming and sloppy managment. You end up with a sloppy project.

That most programmers are not paid hourly just shows how greedy the people who own these companies are. They do not want to share their ferraris with ANYONE.

I don't see "whithin reason" mentioned. (1)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 10 years ago | (#9580281)

So it is allright if they demand you work 22 hours in a row for 5 days?

Give me a break, some people should get a sense of what is logic and what is ludicrous.

You may have signed a contract but there is a point where demands put upon you are not reasonlable, no matter what you signed.

Need your pride stroked or something? (1)

lorcha (464930) | more than 10 years ago | (#9581400)

Sure, that all sounds good, but let me put it to you this way. I left my salaried job where I was working 60-70 hrs/wk for an hourly job working 40 hours/wk (unless it's a deadline or something). I make over three times at the hourly job as as the salaried job for much less work.

So you can keep your pride. I'll take the money and free time, thanks.

Re:What is wrong with these people? (1)

jockeys (753885) | more than 10 years ago | (#9581492)

that's the line my employers have taken, so when I have to live at the office for 80-85 hours over 7 days, it is my own fault. which is fine. but almost never have I found that I can take the time off early. why? not that I have a load of work all the time, sometimes we get ahead and can relax a bit, but that the brass up top thinks it "looks bad" so the same developer that pulled an 80 hr week will get griped at for "unprofessionalism" the following week when he skives off friday at lunchtime and doesn't come back. anyone else experience this?

Salaried employees don't get overtime. (4, Interesting)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572272)

I worked at a pizza place while going to college. The managers there regularly worked 60 hour weeks for their salary. 9 hours to manage the business plus about 2-3 hours afterwards to handle closing and settling up the paperwork and bills for the night then dropping the cash off at the bank.

Salaried employees aren't paid x dollars for y time of work. They're paid x dollars to do a JOB.

I worked in the game industry too. Yeah, it was a sweatshop at times. It was also a LOT of fun. The sweatshop attitude wasn't entirely management's fault. They wanted a game in 12 months. We wanted a GREAT game and would regularly spend the extra time coding and experimenting to get the best result. Then, of course, we'd slip and management would hold us to our time. Then we'd get pissed at management and management would get pissed at us and the death march would begin.

The point is that it's not all "evil" management's fault. (Sometimes it is, but not always). But ultimately, the choice to work 80 hour work weeks lies with the individual, not the company.

I also work in the game industry (4, Insightful)

LordZardoz (155141) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572547)

And I somewhat disagree with your statement.

No one gets in the game industry to make great cash on an 'easy' job. Those that try usually quit when they realize how hard it is. And more money can generally be made doing other programming work, at least before mass outsourcing of such non-game work became common.

So yes, Game programmers typically make games because they want to, first and foremost.

Now, some people are workaholics, and would do the 80 hour thing, or near to it, by choice. But not everyone. Scheduling is pushed by the publishers, and management agree to it, and the programmers have to deal with it.

If a game company schedules a project assuming all staff will want to work 14 hour days for 3 and 4 month stretches, the game will suck.

Now, if a project starts to go bad and you start to have to work a death march that the employees were not told to expect at the outset, then the employer has breached the agreement. Salary is not a commission. Salary is "Perform Task X over time Y for amount of Cash Z". If they change the nature of X or Y, then Z should also change.

My boss compensates for overtime. Lord knows we have to work it, but it is ultimately compensated. Perhaps your company just is not as good as mine?

END COMMUNICATION

Re:I also work in the game industry (4, Informative)

Phronesis (175966) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573599)

The article states that the employees were paid for a 40 hour week, and used time cards, which management pressured them to falsify in order to understate actual hours worked. If the employees held exempt salaried positions, then time cards would not have been necessary.

The problem here seems to be that management wanted it both ways---they wanted to hire the employees as hourly, not salaried workers, but not to pay them for all the hours worked. There would be no grounds for a lawsuit if management had been upfront about this being a salaried, unlimited hours position.

I don't work in the games industry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9580193)

But I experience the same problems. I'm a salaried employee doing engineering research, but I'm treated differently (as salary or hourly) based on which best suits the company.

If I don't get my 40 hours in for the week, I'm docked personal time or vacation, and if those are gone, I'm docked personal or vacation from the next year. If I do get my 40 hours in, and go above, I get nothing in return.

So what used to be one of the benfits of a salaried job (if I got my job done before the work week was done, I didn't need to come in) no longer exists.

Re:Salaried employees don't get overtime. (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572572)

Look up the definition of exempt here [dol.gov] . It has nothing to do with whether or not you are salaried. Managers are by definition, exempt and therefore don't have to be paid overtime.

If you are classified an exempt employee, you have no right to bitch about not getting paid overtime... 80 hrs is part of the job. OTOH, non exempt employees are required by law to get paid overtime, and judging by the assertion in the article ("forging time sheets"), it sure looks like "evil management".

Re:Salaried employees don't get overtime. (1)

magic (19621) | more than 10 years ago | (#9574825)

Indeed, there's a specific exemption for computer programmers:

http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/whd/fairp ay /fs17e_computer.htm

-m

Re:Salaried employees don't get overtime. (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 10 years ago | (#9576027)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the Fairpay rules go into effect until August 23.
http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/whd/fa irpay /main.htm

I had trouble finding what the current rules are (only looked briefly though)

Re:Salaried employees don't get overtime. (1)

Rhys (96510) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573699)

Salaried employees are paid to do a job. Not their job and bob the lazy asses job. Not their job and joe who they fired 6 months ago for "downsizing to produce a more dynamic workforce".

My job is to manage the contracts I have, and do some programming work for my group on the side. If I have more than a week where I can't get it done in 40 hours, unless I'm slacking off it's not my problem, it's my management's fault for not having enough staff to handle the workload.

Salaried does not mean slave.

Re:Salaried employees don't get overtime. (2, Insightful)

Z0mb1eman (629653) | more than 10 years ago | (#9576618)

>Salaried employees aren't paid x dollars for y time of work. They're paid x dollars to do a JOB.

And if a salaried employee consistently works more efficiently and finishes his JOB early, does he get to take that time off or does he simply get more work?

As a european to the americans, O_O (5, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 10 years ago | (#9572722)

I can't believe some of the posts. You are not paid to work 40 hours you are paid to get a job done? What the fuck?

Imagine this attitude in a factory. You are charged with screwing X into Y and half way down your shift something somewhere breaks and the entire line grinds to a hault. Well obviously lost production, what happens then in america or according to these posters? You don't get paid? You have to work unpaid overtime to make up for the lost time?

All I can say is thank god for unions in europe then, real unions.

There are basically 3 kinds of jobs

  • Pure per hour work, think plumbers and such. No such thing as overtime. Imagine if that was true, your plumber could just charge you 100% extra saying he was on overtime :)
  • basic worker, you get a X hour contract and are expected to do your job during those hours minus breaks. Extra hours get paid extra.
  • Fixed pay, higher positions can have this. Anyone from movie stars to directors get a fixed amount but are supposed to do the job that needs to be done regardless of hours.

It is up to the boss to ensure in all cases that the person they employ actually performs as desired during the working hours but if there is simply to much work for the number of hours then this is not the problem of the employee in the first two salary situations.

Of course now the questions is where these programmers belong. Are they no different from a person working the assembly line or are they a director level employee.

Funny thing is that despite huge differences in working attitude around the world it seems impossible to say wich way is the right way. Japan was at one time a leader and look at them now. America had the assembly line and the highly paid worker with a car and freestanding house but recent news stories suggest america is no longer able to keep that up either.

Europe is to fragmented to make any real conslusions. My own country holland is amazingly well balanced with work in every field from farming to high tech stuff so we tend to feel fluctuations less then say detroit in the US when the car market shifted (we lost daf cars and it was news but it means a few thousand job losses not an entire city going down the shitter).

Re:As a european to the americans, O_O (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573042)

The whole reason they pay people a salary is that they don't want to pay them hourly. If you don't like working the hours you're forced to work, work for someone else. I don't see why you can't accept this view.

Japan is still a leader, and without transfer of technology and processes from Japan to America, American automakers (for example) would have gone in the toilet as the majority of american electronics companies have done - they've gone under or they've gone to other countries.

Of course, I'd like two hour long four beer lunches as much as the next guy, but the truth is that you accept a position. If, like me, you have to take a crappy position because of poor planning, it's no one's fault but your own.

Re:As a european to the americans, O_O (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 10 years ago | (#9574002)

I bet you disagree with the minimum wage laws and unions as well then.

Re:As a european to the americans, O_O (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9574735)

Not at all. The minimum wage is a tip of the hat to reality, and it needs to be around. I'm torn on the issue of unions because they seem to so frequently be abused, but on the other hand, slavery is illegal for a reason, and labor without labor unions is the next best thing really. For companies, that is.

Actually I think the minimum wage should be a little less minimum, but I know people hate paying taxes.

Re:As a european to the americans, O_O (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9573652)

Each system has benefits and disadvantages. Compare the unemployment rates of America and Europe and you will see the larger picture.

Re:As a european to the americans, O_O (2, Interesting)

servognome (738846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9574066)

In the US there are strict rules about who gets salary and who doesn't.
People like you described who screw X into Y are non-exempt hourly workers. They are more like extensions of the machines on the assembly line, they are not allowed to use their own judgement, they are just performing a specific task, usually exactly according to a written specification (if the company follows ISO rules). If the assembly line breaks down, they still just sit idle but get their hourly wage. Companies get into alot of trouble [tristatenews.com] for unpaid overtime
Salaried employees are those whose job functions are more intellectual and difficult to quantify. How many hours does it take to design a new widget? You get your salary no matter how many hours you work, the only exceptions are personal absences, or medical absence where the company has an alternate compensation plan (ie short term disability plan). So if I go to work one hour a day each week, I still get my full salary.
In my work at least, if you are scheduled for more than 12 hours (ie supervising 12-hour shift workers) then you are given overtime for the extra scheduled hours because your job expectation exceeds the 40 hour work week.
Programmers, should be salaried employees, but they also should have insight and input into resourcing expectations. I'm an R&D engineer, and part of my job is to estimate how many hours it will take to complete a project I am given. Of course I have a knowledgable manager, so I can't go way over on my estimate. Programmers if they are exempt should have the same input. In the end it works out best, since management has a good grasp on resourcing, and the employee works a good amount of hours. I usually work between 45-50 hours because I set an aggressive schedule. Of course there are those 80-85 hour weeks because of the unexpected, but I am never in one of those constant 70-80 week grinds.

Re:As a european to the americans, O_O (1)

digime (681824) | more than 10 years ago | (#9574724)

You claim you don't understand that programmers are paid to get a job done regardless of hours:
You are not paid to work 40 hours you are paid to get a job done? What the fuck?

Then you go on to explain it quite well:
Fixed pay, higher positions can have this. Anyone from movie stars to directors get a fixed amount but are supposed to do the job that needs to be done regardless of hours.

You don't have to be a movie star to have a "fixed pay". Most professionals in America have a version of it. Of course, in most businesses this usually means working more than 40 hours instead of less. Either way you get the same amount. Hours are not usually tracked in any official way. But yes, they'd notice if you worked 30 minutes a day and fire you. They just don't seem to notice when you're working 12.

Re:As a european to the americans, O_O (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9576403)

You may want to do some more research between our two business cultures, also including the positives and negatives of at-will employment, and then consider where the highest unemployment rates are. You might find it enlightening.

As an european to an european (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9579667)

The only difference in the working conditions between american and european game companies is that you won't get that much money in european companies. You can ask about anyone who's been in the industry for a while that "get the job done" is the thing that is important. Usually combined with a subtle "or the company will f*ck up" which happens often enough anyway.

Just wanted to throw this out... (3, Interesting)

DaveJay (133437) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573253)

I've read forums about things like this before, where companies pressure employees to falsify timesheets.

Often, the response from many is "so what, most if not all companies do that" or something similar.

I just wanted to say that the company I currently work for as a programmer started using timesheets, and from day one to now, at all levels, with no exceptions (and I work over 50 hours a week on a regular basis, sometimes over 60) it has always been clearly stated:

"Do NOT falsify your timesheets. If you worked 80 hours last week, write it down. If we don't track time accurately, we don't know if you're all being overworked, and we won't realize we need to hire more people. So BE ACCURATE and don't hide the fact that you're working longer hours."

It should be no surprise, then, to learn that we not only survived the dot-bomb years, but we're growing so fast worldwide we can't find enough qualified people to fill the openings we're creating every day, even though we're hiring a LOT of people.

There's a lesson in there somewhere. ;)

Re:Just wanted to throw this out... (2)

Col. Blackwolf (778676) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573568)

Nice to see that your bosses are doing it properly. Falsifying timesheets is, as was pointed out elsewhere, illegal, at least in N. America.

I would suspect that it's probably a case where the managers ass is in the fire if he goes over budget, and he doesn't have the balls to stand up an say "No Bloody way, we need more time". So instead he makes them falsefy their time logs. And while that's bad, if the programmers didn't keep track of their actual time (either in the official log or another one), there isn't much that can be done.

Ok, now that I said that, I have to ask: which worldwide company? ;)

Re:Just wanted to throw this out... (1)

Alizarin Erythrosin (457981) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573939)

Here, falsifying your time sheet can land you in jail. If you're pressured to falsify, you are supposed to report it to somebody. Probably HR. As usual there is supposed to be no retribution if this happens, but in that type of case I'd believe there wouldn't be.

Re:Just wanted to throw this out... (1)

ooby (729259) | more than 10 years ago | (#9574027)

My timecard reads "Falsifying timecards is a crime!"

Re:Just wanted to throw this out... (1, Funny)

jayrtfm (148260) | more than 10 years ago | (#9574989)

Your company is hiring?!?
Where can I send my resume?

Re:Just wanted to throw this out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9577365)

What project code do you bill your "half hour reading and writing responses to Slashdot article" to?

Glad Someone Has Finally Done This (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9573327)

I've worked for a bunch of game companies including Origin, Ion Storm, and elsewhere. And I'm here to tell you, they are _not_ fun: they are the equivalent of 19th century sweatshops. Most places I worked, myself and other programmers routinely turned in 80-100 work weeks -- not because we were excited or invested in our job, but because we were told point blank that we would be fired otherwise. There is practically _no_ compensation. Most managers sneer at the idea of comp days, and the number of folks who've received bonuses or royalties that equalled the amount of time they put into a project is pretty minimal.

Managers, of course, come and go as they please and don't seem to understand why everyone is so unhappy with the situation. Because, well, isn't this a fun place to work? Don't they buy you dinner when you stay late and take you to see that "Star Wars" film? And hey, you get to have action figures on your desk! The fact that your hourly pay works out to be less than the guys in QA is never mentioned.

And to that guy who thinks that this is just the price you pay in order to take off on Friday and "play golf," you're obviously misinformed. No one gets to say "Hey, I'm done for the day, how about a round of frisbee?"; if you don't have work to do, you're instructed to find work to do.

If the joy of making computer games allows you to overlook these issues, then honestly, more power to you. But to act like this guy is somehow biting the hand that feeds him is simply uninformed and ludicrous. I have no idea how the legal rulings will play out, but I wish him all the best. Maybe if one of these companies gets scared, then the rest will preemptively adapt normal business practices (like just about everywhere else), act like grown-ups, and then they really might be fun places to work.
--
Lewis

Re:Glad Someone Has Finally Done This (2, Informative)

AltaMannen (568693) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573847)

I sympathise with you on these issues but I think the situation has become far better than it used to be. Sure, some places may still treat their employees like a cowfarm in california, especially if you work at the only videogame company in the country (like the one in Norway, which is _NOT_ a privilege to work in) but where I have been the last five years or so have all been very careful to keep employees satisfied even if they have to do months of crunch-time and comp-time is common (it may not be more than 10% of time invested but it adds up at the end). If you work in an unfair situation in the game industry you really should start to look around, you might not find anything right away but staying and complaining sends the wrong signal to oppresive employers. And remember that you don't have to wait for your game to get finished to leave, it just helps a little to have one more finished game on your resume. Your manager will probably tell you that you won't get another job in the industry if you do so but that is the smelliest bullshit ever.

Re:Glad Someone Has Finally Done This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9575099)

Hey Lewis! We've worked at the same places.

Yeah. Ion Storm is/was a sweatshop - and it was absolutely clear that you worked 100 hour weeks or got fired.

You've got to love Texas. Zero employment rights.

Re:Glad Someone Has Finally Done This (2, Interesting)

DeepHurtn! (773713) | more than 10 years ago | (#9577497)

The fact that your hourly pay works out to be less than the guys in QA is never mentioned.

I did a stint in QA once, and I saw that happening. I became buddies with one of the audio designers, and for large chunks of the project he would sleep in his soundroom instead of going home and generally work crazy hours. Before long us peons in QA were working crazy hours too -- but we were getting paid doubletime! I felt bad hanging out with the guy when I knew I was getting paid more per hour than he was, even though I was essentially providing unskilled labour compared to him...

Devs got to order from nicer restaurants, though. I'm sure that went a long way towards making up for it. /sarc

Re:Glad Someone Has Finally Done This (4, Interesting)

Psychochild (64124) | more than 10 years ago | (#9578052)

I worked at 3DO while it was still in business, and I have similar stories to tell.

I think the trick is that game developers originally wanted to stay long hours because they legitimately enjoyed their jobs and wanted to make the best creative efforts they could. While working on Meridian 59 at 3DO, I came in on holidays to put in extra hours to improve it as much as possible. (I loved the game so much that I now own Meridian 59 [meridian59.com] .)

However, I think it evolved into something that was just assumed by managers and worked into the schedule. On the last project I worked on at 3DO (before quitting, mind you) we were told to put in long hours by our managers. The word "fired" wasn't necessarily used, but there was a strong element of peer pressure at work. We were given 6 months to finish a game that realistically should have taken about three times that. Of course, we slipped a few weeks and were blamed for that. We were supposed to ship one day before my birthday, but since we slipped my request for time off on my birthday was denied, even though all my assigned work was done and there wasn't enough time on schedule for me to pick up a new task. (It shouldn't come as a surprise that I was never able to use any vacation time while I was working at 3DO, and when I quit I was maxxed out on accumulated time.)

As a footnote: I got the last laugh, though, because even though that game was universally panned by critics, the obligatory "good things" that every game review has to include focused on the sound and the map, things I did the programming for!

Anyway, this issue is one of the reasons why I own my own company now. I still have to work long hours, but at least I'm doing it for my own benefit instead of for the benefit of someone else that profits off of my long hours.

It'll be interesting to see what happens with this lawsuit. Given the number of companies that do require people to put in the long, hard hours to complete projects, this could have far-reaching effects if it goes against Vivendi.

Have fun,

Mod this up important (1)

NessusRed (710227) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573378)

Please give me money my baby needs money for food give them money for the baby wheres my baby?!

Why isn't this on the front page? (2, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573431)

This story possibly has reprecussions for the entire IT industry. Just because it concerns a game company down't mean it should be restricted to the games section.

There are plenty of programmers who have been forced to pull an all nighter while the boss goes home to count his stock options.

Saskatcewan Laws (3, Interesting)

Nos. (179609) | more than 10 years ago | (#9573590)

I went through something similar with an employer not that long ago. I was a salaried employee, supposedly meaning no overtime. However, if I had to miss an hour of work for a doctor's appointment or something, I was docked an hours worth of pay.

After a month or so of this, we started talking to the labour board, and guess what, doesn't matter if we're salaried, we are eligible for overtime for every hour past 40 in a week that we work. Considering that last month I had been averaging about 70 hours a week (not at my own choice), I ended up taking home a lot more than I usually did, and suddenly, they weren't pushing us to work overtime so much. Might have had something to do with the fact that they probably blew their salary budget for the next few months. Also interesting is the fact that in our labour code, you cannot force and employee to work more than 4 hours per week unless it is an unforseen emergency. I don't think an approaching, or past deadline would qualify.

In case your wondering, they did try and designate us as professional employees, and thus get away from paying overtime. However, there are precious few positions/professions that qualify. Programmer, Network/Systems Analsyt, etc. do not qualify.

Hey you! (0)

silicon not in the v (669585) | more than 10 years ago | (#9574045)

Quit wasting time filing lawsuits and GET BACK TO WORK!

Brilliant. (1)

BigChigger (551094) | more than 10 years ago | (#9574713)

Good way to ensure your job gets sent overseas. BC

Am I the only one? Not! (2, Informative)

Tojosan (641739) | more than 10 years ago | (#9576470)

I know I'm not the only programmer out there that isn't a total slave. :)
The normal routine where I work is about 50 hours a week for a non manager programmer. Sometimes less, sometimes more. Mostly not on the more side. I believe we are fairly compensated for our time too.

Of course everyone is assigned in a group and thus stuck supporting a small range of apps and new development. Maybe this helps but it also limits your future opportunities.

Overall I'm betting lots of programmers aren't getting the raw deal we see here. And trust me, I'm enough of a devotee to my off time that when it gets back to 60 hour weeks, I'll be looking for a new job.

Be well,
Tojosan

Poor USIans. (1)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 10 years ago | (#9580372)

Such a schedule would be illegal in the European Union.

Amazing.

I'll bet.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9576477)

That the CEOs aren't working long hours for low pay.

It's not just game developers... (1)

dghcasp (459766) | more than 10 years ago | (#9578818)

Abuse of salaried workers has always gone on, but it is becoming more and more endemic within the economy...

Medical interns regularly work 100 hour weeks. So do articling lawyers. So do investment bankers. So do finance research analysts. So do lots of bankers, senior managers, etc.

Personally I blame mutual funds. As more and more people started to buy mutual funds and become educated about the stock market, there was increasing pressure on companies to return higher profits. The easiest way to do so is to squeeze employees, either through overwork or layoffs.

So, theoretically, overworked employees should be getting the same return as they would have from overtime from investments in mutual funds. Unfortunatly, it didn't work out that way. Institutional investers got most of the gains, or at least those left after senior management was done siphoning them off for themselves.

OBPersonal Experience: I used to work for Nortel Networks back when it was still Northern Telecom and BNR. We used to get paid overtime as software developers. Then they took away the overtime, and the hours stayed the same. Then they took away the $15,000 annual compensation for carrying a pager and being on call 24/7, saying it was "part of the job." All of this real compensation was replaced (in theory at least) by stock options.

When I left, I had a ton of options at about $180 a share while the stock was at around $30. Same year I left the CEO got many millions in bonuses and stock options (that somehow weren't underwater.)

Nowadays, my attitude is that I'll work the unpaid overtime if it (a) needs to be done and (b) it's my fault. But when managers come calling saying "we need you to work overtime because {our schedule was unreasonable | we mistimed the market | Our forecasts were wrong | We need to boost the stock price}," I just go home.

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